By Allie Rohlfs
SBDC incubator company Atlas Alpha Inc. is “kinda like TripAdvisor, but for board games.”
Trent Ellingsen is the founder and CEO of Atlas Alpha Inc., a database with 37,000 board games that helps users find their favorite board games at the best prices. The site is connected to about 20 board game-selling retailers, giving users plenty of options to discover where to purchase their next game.
In order to connect the world of gamers, the Atlas Alpha Inc. website also features a forum with several related discussion topics, as well as a Best Of list for board games to give users a well-rounded gaming experience.
Ellingsen graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in computer science and worked as a software engineer for 10 years before brainstorming the idea for Atlas Alpha Inc. in November 2018.
“I made a little app for fun on the side, and seeing that it could make some money made me think, ‘What if I just make this my full-time job?’” Ellinsen said.
He brought the idea to the SBDC, where he was assisted with the consulting and marketing aspects of the company. Ellingsen also appreciates the monthly check-ins and collaborative workspace to keep him motivated.
“The biggest benefit is just working in this space with everyone else,” he said. “When I don’t know what I’m doing in terms of the business, like raising money, I create a pitch deck and then I share it and talk about it and get feedback. It’s mostly the collaboration; that has been my favorite part of all this.”
Ellingsen’s initial idea for the company developed after he tried to create a business inventing and selling board games online, but faced difficulty marketing after the initial post-launch success.
“What led to my success was trying a lot, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and learning a lot,” he said.
In order to learn as much as possible about building a business, Ellingsen read numerous books about sales and marketing, listened to helpful podcasts and watched videos. After beginning with a handful of business ideas, he has now established the four-person team of Atlas Alpha Inc. and found success that he hopes continues to flourish.